Malik hints at a Swat-like operation in southern Punjab

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Lahore, June 27 (ANI): Governments in Pakistan's Punjab and Sindh provinces have been placed on terror alert amid fears that the Taliban could take refuge in the southern part of the country after fleeing from Waziristan and Swat.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik disclosed that his department had recorded 1,148 terrorist threats during last four months.

"Now, for example, we suspect something similar [to Swat] may arise in south Punjab. We are sharing the information with Punjab. You know Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Muhammad ... all those people basically hail from that area. What we suspect [is] perhaps all those terrorists who fled from Waziristan or Swat might take refuge in south Punjab," the Daily Times quoted Malik, as saying.

Malik said the military offensive in the Swat Valley was in its "final phase" and had killed more than 3,500 Taliban, while the country's forces had stepped up its operations in Waziristan along the Afghan border.

He conceded that major cities were under threat from terrorists, but said: "The level of threats has been reduced, that is my assessment."

On Pakistan's enemy number one, Baitullah Mehsud, he said: "I think his activities are continuing the suicide bombings have decreased, though the threats are there. It's ... just a matter of time. We are looking for him. The moment he comes out he will be targeted."

Qureshi, however, said the total elimination of the Taliban and Al Qaeda would "take some time."

Malik urged the Afghan government to increase the number of check posts on its side of the border, as much of the ammunition was being supplied to the insurgents through this route. (ANI)

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